Sarah Anne Stinnett

SHINE, NOT BURN
May 16, 2024 Stinnett Sarah Anne

SHINE, NOT BURN

 

Just at that point
Jocasta Cameron seemed to know
she might never be happy
with her lover, though she saw

 

his simple yearning, eager
patience, which might please her
for a time, content to see it all
in her blindness—maybe even

 

because she was looking
into its clear blackness, into the press
of silence between them: those years
of their intimate

 

separateness, just at that
precipice, the brief inhale, her readiness
not to burn but shine, just then
I swerve into the breakdown on I-95.

 

The audiobook keeps on—
Jocasta hesitating while she speaks
as if the words hadn’t been
waiting there already. For a long time

 

I stare and stare in the rearview:
a wolf crushed by some flatbed
or someone speeding absentmindedly,
too reckless or scared to realize

 

the wolf is half-alive. Back legs
splintered. Fur white as ice, then red.
The coarse hairs rippling
like switchgrass in the wind

 

as cars rush by tonight.
What good is death
if it comes too late?
The body shifting into something

 

shapeless. Slender frame giving. Though
somehow still exquisite in stillness.
Through my window, I hear its small howl.
And then

 

in the mirror
where everything was
happening in reverse
the snout tilts up,

 

as though the wolf lifts its eyes
to take in that awful openness
of the black sky. A clear shot
into the heart of the beyond.

Sarah Anne Stinnett is a poet and educator from New Hampshire. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University and ALM in Dramatic Arts and ALB in Humanities from Harvard University. Her work appears in Red Letter and is incised in sidewalk cement as a winner of the 2020 Cambridge Sidewalk Poetry Contest. She teached at Berklee Online and is currently working on her first collection.